Regardless of how hard you try, every year, there are always going to be some members that lapse. And as frustrating as that can be, the good news is, that doesn’t have to be the end of the road for those members. You could still potentially win them back - with the right strategy in place.
At ASAE’s 2017 Annual Meeting & Exposition, I attended a fascinating session hosted by Vivian Swertinski, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Informz, an email marketing software provider for associations and nonprofits. The session was titled Targeted Revenue: Lapsed Member Recruitment, and it was all about creating a purposeful and audience-centric lapsed member campaign.
When creating a campaign like that, Swertinski recommends the following:
- Plan, plan, plan - When creating a lapsed member campaign, you’re dealing with an audience that has already chosen to distance themselves from your organization. That said, you need to be VERY strategic about how many messages you’re sending lapsed members, and of course, what those messages say. You only get one chance to create a compelling argument. After that, people may start tuning you out (and unsubscribing to your email communications). The point: Don’t make this up as you go. Have a plan!
- Analyze your audience - Before even creating your campaign, you need to analyze who you’re dealing with. Who’s your audience? Are you offering them something they could get somewhere else? What are their pain points? Have you corrected any of those pain points? These are all questions you need to dive deep into. It’s also worth asking what happens when your members lapse. Are they still receiving your organization’s newsletter? Are they still being invited to events? What’s the experience supposed to be like for them? If they haven’t gotten cut off from anything (or many things), what incentive do they have to pay for membership? You need to set some rules for lapsed member engagement and define what that experience should look like.
- Analyze your membership - Once you understand who your lapsed members are, you then need to compare that group to your overall membership. Is there anything unique about your lapsed members? Is it a particular member type that isn’t renewing? Or members of a certain region? If not, that’s completely fine, but this is something you need to analyze and rule out (or confirm) before moving forward.
- Create the campaign - Once you’ve done the research and realized who you’re dealing with (what they need and what they’re missing), it’s then time to create the campaign. But note (and this is a BIG note): Your focus should NOT be to get your lapsed members to renew. If you do that, you may win them back, but you’ll eventually lose them again. Instead, your focus should be to serve them and provide them with value. That’s how you win back members for the long-haul.
Swertinski gave an example of how she helped an association - The American Association for Respiratory Care - gain 800 members in 45 days - with just two emails! Now I won’t give away all of her secrets (for more about that, visit informz.com), but I will share one little tactic she and the association used in their first email to lapsed members that highlights bullet point #4 very well, and in my opinion, is just plain brilliant.
In the first email AARC sent lapsed members, they encouraged them to do two things: 1) renew, and 2) sign up for AARC University, an online learning portal for members. Many associations make the mistake of stopping at step #1. But when you do that, you’re sending the message, “We only want your money.” By taking it a step further, and encouraging them to get involved, you’re then changing the message and helping them engage. You’re focusing on serving them, and THAT’S how you create a win-win campaign.
For more about Informz’s campaign or the services they provide, visit informz.com.
And for a more tips on keeping your members - before they even lapse - check out our free guide, Membership Retention Tactics That WORK, below!